Yesterday I talked about the updates that Fozzie revealed on my podcast sneak peek for After Hours with Rixx Javix, which you can listen to here, about the future of on-grid links. It is a fascinating and extremely interesting solution to a long-term problem that solves a lot of issues that link boosting has had since day one. And while I certainly appreciated the conversation, not a lot of details are currently available on how this new system will work inside the game. Naturally. This is all very early.
But that doesn't stop us!! Nor does it stop my readers, one of whom sat down and wrote this speculation yesterday. He was going to post it as a comment, but I thought it was deserving of a follow-up to yesterday's post. So here is Rank Badjin's thoughts about how on-grid links might work:
"We have launchers for scan probes and we have launchers for warp probes, CCP needs to add launchers for booster probes. The use of this launcher and the probes it launches would be enabled by a new skill called "Booster Probes" or something similar.
Level I of this skill would allow the fitting of a T1 Booster Probe Launcher and some of the equivalent metas. Level III would enable high function metas and Level IV or maybe V would enable T2 launchers. The probes would also scale accordingly with the same skill. (I think I would make it V for T2 with a crazy training time to be honest.) There is an alternative to divorce the probes from the launcher as far as skill training, more on this later.
Each level of this skill would also enable more probes to be launched at one time using a scale similar to scan probes. The probes themselves would be fixed in space like warp interdiction probes and can be retrieved and reused only if physically scooped to the cargo bay. The probes would time out after a fixed interval. In the interests of keeping this on-grid, I think that interval should remain fixed without being affected by skills for each probe type but perhaps vary slightly between probes with significant extensions for dead-space and officer metas.
This next part may be a bit over the top, but I can see some definite incentive to do it, and some definite reasons not to do it.
A “Probe Launcher” would be able to launch any probe small enough to fit in its tube. An “Expanded Probe Launcher” would be able to launch ANY probe. And I mean ANY. Two launchers period for every core, combat, survey, warp, and booster probe. A bit complicated to juggle skills so no one loses skill points in the change, but...now you can fit an Exploration Frigate, a Covert Operations Frigate, a Reconnaissance Cruiser, (a T2 Destroyer?), a Command Destroyer, a Strategic Cruiser, and a Command Battle-Cruiser, (and the Nestor?) to launch any probe that you have the skills to deploy. Perhaps Frigates would only be able to fit the “Probe Launcher” and the “Expanded Probe Launcher” would be limited to Cruisers and above by power-grid as usual.
Pros are obvious, fitting out ships for WH space just got a lot broader. Cons are also obvious, fitting out ships for multi-role functionality in PvP may be WAY too easy. This would shift the importance of Frigates and Destroyers up the scale immensely. There would need to be some benefit I haven't yet envisioned for Command Battle-Cruisers to fill. Perhaps Battle-Cruisers could function like HICs and have the option of a fixed on the ship location area of effect large enough to encompass the entire grid or a sizable portion of it."
Personally I think this is a rather interesting way to approach integrating a "link launcher" into the game as things stand now. The last time I personally launched a probe was almost five years ago down in Scalding Pass. I spent an entire day trying to learn how to use probes and eventually realized two things. One, I suck at probing. And two, I can't attack anyone in my probing ship. So I'm not the most experienced person when it comes to using probes. Cramming all the functionality of any "probe" into a single class of launcher does condense a lot of things and streamline the entire process.
I do like the idea of "link probes" more than I like the idea of "link bubbles" frankly. I find the idea of a gate covered in Warp Bubbles and Link Bubbles disgusting, not only to my sensibilities, but also to common sense. So if links are going to become AOE based deployable, "fire-and-forget" based, then attaching them to a launched probe makes sense to me.
What are your thoughts? Do you like the idea or do you have another thought?